Game-changing new hospital marks construction progress 

01/08/2019 00:00 
Ashleigh Robinson, 28 years old, from Hove, was a special guest to celebrate construction progress at what will be one of the most technologically advanced hospitals in central London.

Part of UCLH (University College Hospitals London NHS Foundation Trust), the new 11 storey hospital is due to open next year. It will be home to one of only two NHS proton beam therapy (PBT) centres, Europe’s largest centre for the treatment of blood disorders and a state of the art surgery service.

Having PBT available in the UK transforms treatment for children, teenagers and adults with hard to treat and complex cancers.. A specialised form of radiotherapy, it uses beams of protons (tiny particles) to precisely destroy cancerous cells, limiting damage to surrounding tissues, improving the quality of life after treatment. Until December 2018, when the sister service at the Christie in Manchester started treating patients, people had to travel overseas for NHS proton beam therapy. With the UCLH service and The Christie’s, this treatment will be within closer reach and more people with complex and hard-to-treat cancers will have access to this treatment.

In March 2018, when Ashleigh needed treatment for her cancer in her lower back, she had to travel to the USA as part of the NHS England overseas treatment programme. She had to stay in the States for three months to complete her treatment, which was on top of surgery that had taken place the previous year. Ashleigh said: “Travelling overseas was daunting at first. It was really stressful being away from work and friends and family for three months. I was lucky that people could visit me, but other people were not in the same position. It will be great when the centre opens in London, so people can have this treatment nearer to home.”

Ashleigh is back at work full time and has regular check-ups to make sure she is doing well. She said: “I am happy to say that since finishing PBT, I have had two clear MRIs and hope for many more! I am back at work and doing everything I did before.”

Ashleigh took part in a ceremony to mark the completion of the external frame. With Marcel Levi, CEO of UCLH, she planted a tree which will be in the patient garden of the centre.

Marcel Levi, CEO of UCLH said: “It was a great pleasure to welcome Ashleigh to UCLH and to show her behind the scenes as we build our new hospital. I am very proud that next year UCLH will open one of the most technologically advanced hospital in the NHS providing world class treatment to patients”.

In the floors above the PBT centre, UCLH are developing a blood disorders centre. It will have more than 80 inpatient beds and a dedicated haematological intensive care unit, making it the largest centre in Europe. It will also undertake cutting edge research in the Sir Naim Dangoor Centre for Cellular Immunotherapy, which is being funded by a generous gift from the Exilarch’s Foundation. UCLH consultant haematologist, Claire Roddie, whose ground breaking research was shown in the documentary “War in the blood” was at the event. She said: “It was fantastic to see progress of the building. The new centre and our research will mean patients can receive the very best treatment, in an amazing setting.”

As well as providing treatment to people with complex cancers, the hospital will also build on UCLH’s surgical capacity with eight state of the art theatres and a surgical ward. The clinical work will be varied, ranging from life changing implants to enable deaf people to hear for the first time, to surgery to reduce joint pain and improve quality of life.

 The 11 storey facility is due to open next year.

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